Sick as a 'gou'
May 14, 2008 12:06 PM   Subscribe

It's the middle of the night in Taipei, Taiwan and I'm shivering with a fever of 101.7 degrees F - at what point should I head to the hospital?

Sorry for asking such a dumb health related question, but I am a guy... I've been fighting a cold that's been going around for the last two weeks and thought I was on the verge of getting over it. With the exception of being hot to the touch and cold to the feel I'm relatively okay (my joints do ache a bit and I've had periods of lite sweats) - very lucid for 3 AM @101.7. :P

PS - If you're thinking, why don't you just call your Mom back home? C'mon - what mother wants a long distance phone call from her eldest about a fever in a country with a history of odd flu's. REALLY?!?!?
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:08 PM on May 14, 2008

posted by sciurus at 12:12 PM on May 14, 2008

from the NIH

Fever: When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call a doctor right away if:

* A baby less than 90 days old has a rectal temperature of 100.2°F (37.9°C) or higher.
* A baby 3 to 6 months old has a fever of 101°F (38.3°C) or higher.
* A baby 6 to 12 months old has a fever of 103°F (39.4°C) or higher.
* A child under age two years has a fever that lasts longer than 24 to 48 hours.
* A fever lasts longer than 48 to 72 hours in older children and adults.
* Anyone has a fever over 105°F (40.5°C), unless it comes down readily with treatment and the person is comfortable.
* There are other worrisome symptoms. For example, irritability, confusion, difficulty breathing, stiff neck, inability to move an arm or leg, or first-time seizure.
* There are other symptoms that suggest an illness may need to be treated, such as a sore throat, earache, or cough.
* You think you may have incorrectly dosed acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 12:13 PM on May 14, 2008


Do you have ambulance services there? If so, I'd chance it to wait until morning. 102 isn't an emergency, but you should see a doctor soon.

You must keep the fever below 105F. If you can do that where you are, with cold baths and plenty of cold drink, then you can put off the trek for a few hours.
posted by cmiller at 12:19 PM on May 14, 2008

I set a threshold of 102.5 - partially b/c I am in Taiwan (and a foreigner with a relatively unhabituated immune system), and partially b/c a hospital visit in the middle of the night is Ace's for calling in sick to work! On the flip side I really hate the hospital...

Fever classification Grade °C °F
low grade 38–39 100.4–102.2
moderate 39–40 102.2–104.0
high-grade 40–42 104.0–107.6
hyperpyrexia >42 >107.6
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 12:22 PM on May 14, 2008

Now? For a fever of 101? In an otherwise healthy adult? C'mon.

Like otherworldly said, 105 is when you're supposed to worry. If you're feeling disoriented and have nobody to care for you, however, you can and should go in earlier in case the fever spikes and you are unable to care for yourself or to call for help. (Or, on preview, what you've decided - equally prudent.)

Drink fluids, take a few baths, take paracetamol or aspirin according to the directions, and see a healthcare practitioner tomorrow if the fever hasn't broken over night. They tend to do that.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:27 PM on May 14, 2008

PS - the health care system here is quite good and Taipei has all the accouterments (as evidenced by this recent episode of Frontline)
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 12:28 PM on May 14, 2008

Yeah, 101 is nothing, people. Do we go to the doctor for stubbed toes too? I generally don't consider a doctor visit absent other factors unless my fever gets over 103.

You've had a pretty low fever for less than a day? Drink some fluids, get some rest, consider going to the doctor if it doesn't improve in a couple days or you actually get some symptoms to worry about.
posted by Justinian at 12:33 PM on May 14, 2008

My suggestion to you is to take ibuprofen (or acetaminophen) according to the instructions until either your fever breaks or it doesn't get better.

You seem to have gotten the memo about 105 being a cut off number before heading to the hospital.
posted by oreonax at 12:40 PM on May 14, 2008

I generally don't consider a doctor visit absent other factors unless my fever gets over 103.

I would think that being in a country with a recent history of pretty ugly infectious diseases would be another factor.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:47 PM on May 14, 2008

Taiwan is an industrialized, modern country. We're not talking about the jungles of Indonesia or something here. He doesn't have SARS or whatever.
posted by Justinian at 12:52 PM on May 14, 2008

I agree that 101 is not a high fever. It is uncomfortable, though. I'm sure you know that Ibuprofen will reduce a fever, but I also found out that Tylenol is pretty good at it too. And, since Ibuprofen and Tylenol aren't the same type of medication, you can take them together. Really kills the fever! This is the ONLY good thing I got out of having Strep throat twice this year.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 1:10 PM on May 14, 2008

Back during what I like to call "Death Flu 2007", and was sicker than I've ever been in my life, my fever never went below 101.5 for a week. I went to the doctor twice, and the second time my temperature was 103. Even at that point, my doctor wasn't worried and never suggested the hospital. He gave me some tylenol and a cold Sprite, and laid me in an unused examining room, and then took my temperature in 30 minute. It was down to 102.5, and he sent me home.

I wouldn't start to worry until you get close to 103. Seconding everyone else. Tylenol, cold fluids, and baths. And tell a friend to check in on you just in case.
posted by kimdog at 1:17 PM on May 14, 2008

Taiwan is an industrialized, modern country. We're not talking about the jungles of Indonesia or something here. He doesn't have SARS or whatever.

Remind me again where bird flu and SARS cropped up? Right, modern, industrialized countries.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:32 PM on May 14, 2008

As a data point- my wife was RELEASED from the hospital with a fever of 103. This was significantly down from the high point of nearly 106. (Ah, 2 trips to the ER, 2 trips to urgent care, and 2 to the doctor in a week... Fun times.)
posted by JMOZ at 2:02 PM on May 14, 2008

Remind me again where bird flu and SARS cropped up? Right, modern, industrialized countries.

I think that we are working under the assumption that the OP is not an old person in bad health who is working in a Chicken farm in rural Anhui province...

Also drink a lot of fluids, wrap yourself up in some blankets and get some sleep.
posted by BobbyDigital at 2:14 PM on May 14, 2008

If you're in Taipei, here's some things to consider: The Anglican (Presbyterian?) hospital is very nice. They have quick service, speak English (my Chinese skills take a beating whenever I'm in serious pain/sickness), and it's a lovely, clean hospital.

Having said that, the first thing we did in Taipei whenever we got sick was simply to go to the nearest pharmacy and describe our symptoms to the person behind the counter. This has always provided everything we needed (I went to the hospital the first time b/c I was a foreigner, and unsure about how pharmacies really worked in Taipei). Most medication you get in the west must be prescribed - in Taipei, not so. It's quicker, fewer (if any) lines, and the pharmacist has never steered us wrong. You don't even have to go in person - just describe your symptoms to a friend, and they can pick up whatever pills/medicine you need.

Hope you feel better soon :)
posted by Herman Hermanson at 2:21 PM on May 14, 2008

Just to pile on with the same advice as everyone else, my one-year-old son had a temperature of 104 on two separate occasions. We called and spoke to a different doctor each time and were told that provided there's no disorientation or drowsiness, just alternate ibubrofen and paracetamol and keep yourself cool.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:23 PM on May 14, 2008

Going to the doctor in Taiwan was never a problem for me--all the doctors (and dentists) that I encountered spoke very good English. I'm sure if you asked any Taiwanese people, they would also recommend a doctor without hesitation. If you want a different experience, go to Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, which is fully funded by the country's national health service and might be interesting to you. Of course, it probably won't actually make you feel better!
posted by pantagrool at 8:17 PM on May 14, 2008

Ho ho - I'm feeling much better now (besides being pretty rundown by lack of sleep and working all day). I'd like to thank you all for your help and I hope this whole ordeal climaxed last night. If anything dramatic happens I'll keep you in the loop (although that's highly unlikely).

Take care!
Dr. Inc
posted by Dr.James.Orin.Incandenza at 4:17 AM on May 15, 2008

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